If you have an irregular heartbeat (called an arrhythmia), your doctor might suggest a treatment called cardioversion to help get your heart back into a normal rhythm.
If your heart beats too fast or unevenly, it can be dangerous. Your heart may not be pumping enough blood to meet your body's needs. An irregular heartbeat also can lead to a stroke or a heart attack.
Many people have thought that caffeine causes arrhythmias. It is a stimulant. It can raise your heart rate and may cause you to feel like your heart is skipping a beat. But a moderate amount of caffeine is not known to cause serious heart rhythm problems or make them worse. Most people who have an arrhythmia do not need to avoid chocolate or caffeinated coffee, tea, or soft drinks.
Avoiding foods and beverages known to aggravate arrhythmias
certain foods and drinking certain beverages may provoke your arrhythmia. Be aware of which
substances have an effect on your arrhythmia and how to avoid them. In general,
small amounts of any food will not trigger an arrhythmia. But in larger
quantities, some foods can aggravate your heart and cause your arrhythmia to
occur or get worse. Be aware of the foods listed below, as they may trigger
your arrhythmia. It is a good idea to talk with your doctor about
Alcohol can cause arrhythmias in people
with normal hearts and can cause heart conditions that result in arrhythmias.
People who drink heavily can develop a weak heart (alcoholiccardiomyopathy).
When this occurs, they can have various arrhythmias including atrial
fibrillation, atrial flutter, and ventricular tachycardia. The heart may return
to normal if the person stops drinking, and the risk of recurrent arrhythmias
will decrease. Alcohol can directly injure heart cells and cause extra heartbeats
and supraventricular tachycardias. Atrial fibrillation may occur after a
Fad diets: Use extra caution!
Many weight-loss diets
can be harmful to your heart if you have an arrhythmia. Fad
diets such as liquid-based programs or high-protein regimens can affect the
concentrations of electrolytes in your bloodstream. This can, in turn, cause
problems with your heart's electrical system, which relies on electrolytes to
function properly. If you have experienced an arrhythmia in the past, you
should be cautious of fad diets. In order to avoid recurrences of your
arrhythmia, always check with your doctor before making
drastic changes to your eating habits.
When taken at higher levels,
ephedra—an herb used by some people for cold and allergy symptoms and to
improve sports performance—can cause drastic increases in blood pressure as
well as cardiac arrhythmias. Ephedra, also called ma huang, has been linked to
heart attacks, strokes, and some deaths.